Thursday, September 22, 2016

Myrtle Beach Family Vacation

Whoa, hold the phone! What's this?  Is this a blog post??  Well indeed it is.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I'll be sharing in no time but for now just a little post about our (not so) recent family vacation to Myrtle Beach over Labor Day weekend.

I'll be honest, every time we go to Myrtle Beach we say we're never going back.  And every year...we go back.   It's just so dang convenient, cheap, and the kids absolutely love it!!   Oh, and you can book it last minute for mom's like me who plan trips on a whim.  (I was just reminiscing of our trip two years ago.  Look how little James was!!)

Our last beach vacation this year was back in May.  May felt like a REALLY long time ago and given it was cold still the boys didn't really get to enjoy the beach like I wanted them to.  So two weeks before labor day weekend I decided to call our old faithful Dunes Village Resort to see if they had anything available.  Nothing Friday night which worked out perfect in hindsight because Hermine blew through on Friday, but we booked Saturday, Sunday and Monday night.

We always stay at Dunes for several reasons:

One, there is SO much for the kids to do.




GAMES (chess anyone?)

And all RIGHT on the beach!!

Another big selling point for us is the Oceanfront rooms with balcony's.  Nothing beats sitting on the balcony and hearing the ocean at night with a cocktail in hand after we put the kids to bed.

And all the rooms have separate bedrooms and kitchens.  We usually go out to dinner a couple nights and then stay out later on the beach one night and eat in.  But its really nice to have the kitchen for breakfast and lunches and the separate bedrooms are absolutely necessary considering the kids go to bed at 8:30/9pm and we'd like to stay up later.

And lastly, its a 3.5 hr drive from us and only a couple hundred dollars a night, this works perfect for our needs with two small kids right now.

With that said we were on the road Saturday morning by 8:30am and on the Water Slides by 12:30pm.  This was the first family vacation to the beach where both boys were old enough to enjoy it.  They could both ride the waterslides, they're both obsessed with the beach and neither of them were going to melt into a puddle of tears if they didn't get a nap by a certain time.  I feel like we've made it!!  Time for another baby right!? ;)

Hunters favorite part was the ice cream truck, James's favorite part was the water slides, and mommy and daddy's favorite part was nap time on the beach with a cocktail and snacks.

Speaking of snacks...have you tried these new Chobani Greek yogurt dips yet?  If not go get em!!  They were delicious.  We tried both the Chili Lime favor and the Sweet Onion flavor and both were amazing.  A good change of pace from french onion chip dip or hummus.  We had them with corn chips and pretzels just out of convenience at the beach but they would be great with cut up veggies too.  I found them in our grocery fridge section where they keep the pimento cheese and hummus.

Now that we've had a wonderful beach trip to end the summer I think I'm ready for fall. (I think) Sad to see summer go, but ready for some apple picking, college football and trick or treating!!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Move over Martha

Oh you know, just picking out flowers with the perfect lipstick on, my hair casually thrown in a ponytail and a photographer taking pictures of me doing it.  haha.  

NO - but in all actuality I literally jumped out of bed with the kiddos at 7:45am, decided I wanted to go out to breakfast so threw this on without giving it a second thought or showering.

Later in the day my girlfriend Lindsey and I stopped by this amazing nursery to check out the flowers and snap some pics of her who really is fashion blog worthy and she insisted I looked cute enough to snap a few pics of mwah.

Saw whaaat! Me?  I'm pretty sure nothing screams "I'm a MOM" more than a white collard button down shirt on a Sunday. Not exactly a fashion icon.

But ya know what, anyone that knows me knows this is ME!!  If I'm not in my corporate 9 to 5 wear (which I won't be for long thanks to R+F)  then you can usually find me in skinny jeans and a popped collar!

Move over Martha Stewart...I'm owning this outfit!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Two for Two

I made a second recipe out of Kristin Cavallari's new book "Balancing in Heels" and it was just as delicious as the first so I wanted to share.  Kristin if you reading this I'm voting next book is a cook book!

Hunter is allergic to peanut butter so when I saw almond butter in the recipe I got super excited!  Here's some of the ingredients in the can buy the whole cookbook here to get the full recipe!  It's well worth it.....craving the minty green smoothie recipes she has in their at THIS moment!

Almond Butter Sugar Cookies 

1 stick butter (she recommends grass-fed butter, softened)

1 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup almond butter

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups oat flour (I had to buy this on amazon did find it in our regular grocery store)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon pink himalayan salt

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

If you give a girl a book

I sort of laugh with the title of this post because that's how it happened.  Here my husband Hunter was browsing amazon and he came across Kristin Cavallari's new book "Balancing in Heels"  It got good reviews, and it had a little bit of everything in it from recipes, to wardrobe tips, to her work he thought I would like it so he ordered it for me.

Well the first few pages in the book talks about how when Kristin got pregnant she became very aware of what she was putting in her body and changed to eating only good quality food "real" food.  But she goes on to talk about avoiding GMO's, the worst chemicals in foods that you will NEVER find in her home and gives ideas on what to swap out white flour and other processed ingredients for.  It struck me.

Now, I've always had an interest in controversial ingredients and how they could possibly lead to cancer.  I mean, when Hunter was born I was BPA paranoid and used glass bottles.  Then I couldn't find a nipple that he would take to with the glass bottles so that was that.  But I kept seeing BPA free on everything plastic which made me feel better.  Then I was a working mom with one kid, and then two kids, and well eating healthy for the past few years has just meant eating your vegetables.   Side Note:  In chatting with a girlfriend about my new found interest she informed me that some reports have shown that sure plastics are mostly BPA free now but they are doing tests because there's likely a chance that what they replaced BPA with is just as bad!!! Geez la weez.

Back to the book.  So Kristin's book really opened my eyes again and led me to do a little internet research myself.  I started googling things like synthetic dyes, sodium nitrates.  I had known to avoid high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners but HELLO...where was I with the synthetic dyes one.  I regret to inform ya'll that for probably a year now my child has had a popsicle after dinner every night and yes it has blue, green, and yellow artificial colors (insert sad face emoji).

Okay I'll cut to the chase.  I'm not about to throw away everything in our pantry and reality stays that I'm a working mom who doesn't have time to make her child a quality "real" food meal every morning and night...the freezer is my friend people.  BUT.... I found this website and its allowing me to make more informed decisions.  Just search for a food and it will give you rating A to D- and tell you WHY it has that rating.  It's states what ingredients are in the food that are controversial and will give you better alternatives.  For example, my kids LOVE Eggos. They eat waffles and pancakes two or three times a week.  Well if you look up Eggos on it will tell you that its rated a C because it contains controversial artificial colors, controversial additive TBHQ and is highly processed.  I love that most that it tells you WHY these things are controversial like below:

Once upon a time, there were no food colorings.

Then folks figured out that food looks better and sells more when it can be enlivened through dyes. For most of food history, the dyes were from natural sources – beet juice for red, turmeric for yellow,etc…

However, in the quest to increase color intensity and lower manufacturing costs, cheap artificial dyes were introduced to market.

Unfortunately they pose a risk for hyperactivity in children, cancer, and allergic reactions.

Then over to the right it show's some better alternatives like the Van's brand of frozen waffles.  Or how easy is it to just whip up a batch on Sunday for the week, freeze them then pop them in the toaster like so.  That still takes time on Sunday, that is sometimes not there, so I will always have a need for already prepared convenience.  And just like the better alternatives for Eggos there are actually popsicles that don't have synthetic dyes too... I just didn't KNOW.

Needless to say I have done a search on every food that is a regular in our home and made sure it is a B or higher rating and has none of the major controversial ingredients.  I'm not ready to go all no processed foods yet...maybe i'll get there, maybe i won't but I feel much better just being educated and aware about the ingredients going into my kids body.

Now, back to the book... again.  Here's where the if you give a girl a book comes into play :) If you give a girl a book, she'll read about healthy food, reading about healthy food will make her want to only buy healthy food.  Only buying healthy food will make her bank account go lower and make her husband wish he didn't buy her the book.   Hehe..Hunter regretting his purchase a little.  No really he is pretty on board with this and secretly likes that I'm keeping our kids healthy but not so secretly reminds me that I am not married to Jay Cutler like Kristin Cavallari is and that he does not make 15million dollars a year.  (pretty sure I knew that).

Here are the things I have purchased and am trying to swap out at Kristin's recommendations:

White flour - instead use spelt flour, brown rice flour or oat flower (I found the spelt flour at Harris Teeter pretty easily. I had to order the oat flour on amazon although I'm sure they have it at whole foods)

White sugar - use coconut sugar instead.  (apparently i'm late to the party on this one because when i purchased coconut sugar the other day it was the last bag on the shelf.  plenty of white coconut sugar left)

White table salt - pink himalayan salt or celtic sea salt ( i got the pink salt - duh) :)

Canola oil instead use coconut oil or olive oils (most have jumped on this band wagon i feel like. We've been using coconut oil for a while now and really love it.  My favorite brand is actually from wild tree. 

I've also purchased flax seeds, chia seeds, cacoa powder, spirlina powder, maca powder, and cacoa nibs.  Mostly to try out her smoothie recipes but also for her recipe for oat balls and overnight chia-oat cups.  I tried her green banana muffin recipe today and to say I'm hooked is an understatement.  They have 4 cups of spinach in them and are the most delicious healthy muffin I've ever had.  You'll likely have to make a grocery store run before you make them for spelt flour, spinach, and flax seed to name a few but it will be well worth it, James ate 3!!


2 cups spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 bag (6 ounces baby spinach) about 4 cups - remember its part of dirty dozen so buy organic!
3/4 cup REAL maple syrup
1/2 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
1 flax egg*  (vegan recipe bonus!)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (3 small or 2 large)

Pick up Kristin's book here for the full recipe!!  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

James Penn's Hot Dog Party

Hey ya'll!!! Long time no post ;)  A few weeks ago we threw James Penn a "Hot Dog" themed 2nd birthday party so just wanted to share its adorableness for you to steal some ideas from and for our families purpose of documenting some memories!  

A little background on the theme.  Like most two years olds James Penn LOVES Mickey Mouse. However, he calls it "hot dog" because of the hot dog dance at the end AND he also happens to love hot dogs the food.  So instead of doing a Mickey Mouse themed birthday party I thought we would do "Hot Dog" themed party with just touches of Mickey Mouse in there.  

Of course every party starts with an invite and usually I use the invite to build a theme for the rest of the event.  My go to is always Minted!  I love that all of our friends and families addresses are saved in my Minted account so not only can I order invites but I can have them pre-addressed as well.  All i have to do is stamp and send them once they arrive.  

Next I always enlist the help of my super talented girlfriend Nicola to help build upon my theme with original cake toppers and decor.  All I told her a Hot Dog themed party with touches of Mickey Mouse, sent her the invite I purchased and she came up with this!!  Seriously...she's amazing!! How adorable is this sign! 

And the cake toppers she created!!! So much attention to detail. I personally would much rather pay 20 bucks for a cake from target and make it match my theme paper toppers like this than pay 200 dollars for themed fondant cake.  

I especially loved this party theme because the food couldn't get any more simple!! A hot dog bar!!  We did build your own chicago dogs, southern dogs, BLT dogs or Classic dogs.  And for the kiddos also had pigs in a blanket and corn dogs on a stick.   

Put out some chips (sweet potato chips for the kids) and a broccoli salad and call it a day! 

Appetizers were super easy too. You can buy Mickey Mouse shaped cheese at Walmart. Cheese and crackers done.   (found the Mickey Mouse paper balls below at party city!)

Then I put the hubby to work cutting out Mickey Mouse shaped pineapples and skewering grapes. 

And for size Mickey Mouse's and a Mickey Mouse bounce house in the driveway....

Picture of the boy's faces as they were blowing up the bounce house :) 

We didn't get your typical adorable 2 year old blowing out his birthday candles picture. We got something WAY better in my opinion. REAL LIFE haha.   Big Brother Hunter in the back ground was having a hard time dealing with the fact that this was not HIS birthday so right before we started singing happy birthday he gave little brother a good whack.  That combined with the overwhelming atmosphere of 30 people singing to you, the birthday boy wasn't too happy :(  

Wasn't anything a little birthday cupcake couldn't fix!!! 

Happy 2nd Birthday James Penn!! We love you ALWAYS and FOREVER! 

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